After months and months of speculation and rumors, today we finally get the official confirmation that Martin Freeman (The Office UK) has been cast in the pivotal role of Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s two-part adaptation of The Hobbit.

Freeman has been rumored to play Bilbo for what seems like forever now, with rumors of his casting resurfacing just last week. However, we can now thankfully put those rumors to bed and rest safe in the knowledge that Freeman is definitely playing the lovable Hobbit of the title.

This is a great day for Hobbit fans as not only has Freeman been confirmed for the lead role but New Line has also announced the casting of quite a few other actors who are set play the Company of Dwarves.

The actors and their respective dwarves are as follows:

  • Richard Armitage (set to appear in the upcoming Captain America) – “Thorin Oakenshield,” leader of the Company of Dwarves.
  • Aidan Turner (Being Human) – “Kili”
  • Rob Kazinsky (EastEnders) – “Fili”
  • Graham McTavish (Secretariat, 24) – “Dwalin”
  • John Callen – “Oin”
  • Stephen Hunter – “Bombur”
  • Mark Hadlow (King Kong) – “Dori”
  • Peter Hambleton – “Gloin”

This is just the first wave of official casting for The Hobbit and announcements are expected soon for the likes of Elrond the Sage, Beorn, Bard the Bowman and the voice of Smaug the dragon (Ron Perlman has previously been rumored to voice him). There’s no word if recently rumored David Tennant, Michael Fassbender or James Nesbitt have been cast – could they be playing any of those yet-to-be-announced characters mentioned above?

Although nothing has been officially announced, Sir Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis are both expected to reprise their iconic roles as Gandalf and Gollum, respectively. Does anyone seriously doubt they won’t come back?

With all the trouble The Hobbit has been through, mainly due to MGM’s financial woes, it was hard to imagine that we’d ever see this film happen. I’m sure I’m not alone in my joy at seeing things move forward on The Hobbit front and by the sounds of this batch of casting additions, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings prequel is in safe hands.

Both parts of The Hobbit are to be shot back-to-back (maybe in New Zealand, maybe not) starting in February, 2011. Part 1 is scheduled to hit theaters on December 19th, 2012, with part 2 following a year later in December, 2013.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter